Updated:ATLANTA — Georgia's gubernatorial candidates faced off at the WSB-TV 2010 Governor's Debate at a Channel 2's midtown Atlanta studio on Saturday afternoon. The event was in conjunction with AM750 and Now 95.5 FM News, as well as the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
The discussion was moderated by Channel 2's John Pruitt in front of a live audience just three days before Election Day.
WSB-TV 2010 GOVERNOR'S DEBATE: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
Panelists included Channel 2 political reporter Lori Geary, WSB AM's Condace Pressley and Atlanta Journal Constitution political columnist Tim Galloway.
The attacks began as Geary probed candidates about the negative tone of the race, despite candidate promises to remain civil.
Republican candidate Nathan Deal said he was disappointed in Democrat Roy Barnes' "personal type attacks," but Barnes said his attacks have remained relevant.
"Questions of integrity, transparency, whether you use your own personal political office for personal benefit. Those are factual, and they are legitimate matters of concern," Barnes said.
The two argued over all of the attack ads seen this year.
Barnes pressed Deal about issues ranging from his record on women's issues, unpaid taxes and a no-bid contract.
Deal refuted the allegations and called them examples of Barnes' "desperate campaign."
He also attacked Barnes over a "frivolous lawsuit" over voter IDs and registering as a lobbyist.
Libertarian candidate John Monds said the bickering reminded voters that the two candidates represented "more of the same."
"If the voters do not decide to go in a different direction, they're going to get the same results. Both of my opponents have been elected and have been given the opportunity to solve many of these problems and haven't done so," Monds said.
The panelists redirected the discussion back issues including the state's deficit, education and job creation.
Barnes and Deal said they would push to ban gifts and free travel from lobbyists for all legislators.
All of the candidates said they would promote education despite the state's projected upcoming $2 billion shortfall. Barnes said the state couldn't afford to not prioritize education spending. Deal said he could make the state's money go further after he creates more jobs by creating "a better tax climate for businesses."
Monds said business would flourish once government gets out of its way.
"Leadership hasn't given business opportunity to bring millions of dollars to state," he said.
Barnes said he wants to give preferences to companies that employ locally.